UK utility Centrica has acquired a minority stake in HiiROC, a company that has developed a technology to convert biomethane and flare gas, or natural gas into green hydrogen.
Centrica together with Melrose Industries, HydrogenOne, Hyundai, and Kia have helped HiiROC raise £26 million ($34.7 million) in funding to expand its operations within the energy, industry and transport decarbonisation sectors.
HiiROC claims its technology produces green hydrogen at a comparable cost to steam methane reforming and using only one-fifth of the energy required by water electrolysis.
Carbon black, the byproduct of HiiROC’s technology can be used for other applications including in tyre manufacturing, building materials and as a soil enhancer, thereby ensuring a circular economy and sustainability of hydrogen production.
The technology avoids the emissions and pollution inherent in the predominant oil furnace manufacturing process. The HiiROC technology can be placed where hydrogen is needed, thereby using existing infrastructure and avoiding storage and transport costs.
Centrica, Kia, HydrogenOne, Melrose Industries and Hyundai join VNG nad Wintershall Dea as strategic investors in HiiROC.
The technology company plans to use the funding raised to expand the integration of its solution with grid networks, for electricity generation and to replace natural gas, flare and synthetic fuels in industrial activities. HiiROC will expand pilots into more customer segments using the funding.
Pilots being implemented include a 400kg/day hydrogen facility in Germany with Wintershall Dea and VNG and a biomethane pilot with Nothern Gas Networks in Chelmsford.
Tim Davies, HiiROC’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to have completed this major funding for the business at this extremely exciting stage in our development. Our technology will produce low-cost, zero emission hydrogen, delivered to customers on a modular, scalable basis at the point of demand. We are now very well positioned to move to commercialisation and are excited to have Centrica as a partner, bringing the breadth and depth of expertise required to operationalise our transformative technology.”
Greg McKenna, Managing Director of Centrica Business Solutions, added: “We see a huge role for hydrogen across Centrica, from domestic boilers in people’s kitchens to Combined Heat and Power units powering data centres and hospitals. There remains a great deal of work to be done to make hydrogen affordable, sustainable and available at scale, but HiiROC’s technology demonstrates that this can be achieved sooner rather than later. We think that there is scope to grow our partnership significantly over the coming years.”